In trying to repair an estrangement with my brother Don over the phone, he tells me, “Chet died.” Don and I have not been close since my mother died when we quarreled bitterly over her care almost seven years ago.
I pause. No feelings. A fact was stated. I wait a few seconds in respect, and restart the conversation. I hadn’t read the email sent from another sibling which explained a little more, more than I cared to hear or needed to know. After hanging up, I was still devoid of feeling.
The studio calls me. Still dark out, I turn on the soft light over the workbench, then the music. The reds and oranges of this new butterfly seem to match my fiery mood of late and the upcoming February Valentine’s Day, both by accident. I just wanted to do red. Or is it an accident?
My work often coincides with my life. The beautiful tile cutter my eldest son Shane bought me for Christmas years back was returned, but I didn’t tell him. His gifts are so thoughtful and specific to the recipient. But I like to find homes for the broken shards just as they are. Like me. My pieces, no matter how shattered, do fit back together making a beautiful whole.
As I work, one part of me, and it must be the little girl who never feels safe, says, “Three down, one to go.” Or not. It is just a passing thought with no vengeance or malice. A primal need for things to be made right, for justice to be served. Seems it rarely is.
I understand the thought. The world is not a safe place with them still in it. Yet with almost all gone, it is still not safe because I know human nature and what others are truly capable of, and I am wary.
I’m at peace. It is not my worry that he has died at 68 from a heart attack, completely detached from what little family life of origin goes on here while he lived the last thirty years in Texas. People die. I have no idea if I’ll make it that far. Sad as that is. And I do feel sad, not just for him but the fucked up family I was in, each one hurled out into the world feeling unloved or cared for.
That is sad and does create a scratchy scraping on my inner, tender linings. It is odd how a bond existed. And early on we did have an unusual bond. I didn’t hate him, but rather what he did.
My hate was at Tom’s treatment of me. Tom’s attack occurred only once, but the confusion and veiled rejection coming from him throughout the years is what has had the potential to destroy me. And it is why I cut myself off from ‘family gatherings.’ I’m the oddity, the outcast, the one who wouldn’t attend. And the functions I did attend were fraught with anxiety and hyper-vigilance.
The force of my beliefs about child rearing being the only and best job there is, screams out its truth once again. I am sad our parents pumped out babies like a factory, too drunk to go to the drawer for a condom. Each grew up so messed up and could have been so much more, and so much happier, or at least at peace, had basic emotional needs been met.
My day began with Shane calling on his way to work as he often does, discussing family life, and all the little intricacies that make me smile. How the librarian complimented his son, my grandson William, saying how polite and caring he is of others. How lacrosse, basketball, and cub scouts is going. I love having a connection so special with my son.
And lo and behold, now that my other son, Cory, has come back across the pond, he also called from Boston and chatted with me as he drove to do errands. Not something he could do from London. My sons are out living full lives, loving life, working hard, and doing so much more and so much better than I did at their age. That’s something.
I kept going inside myself, searching out my feelings, waiting for some type of feeling or grief. But no. I separated internally a long time ago. I let go of him, the rage, I forgave. There was never a discussion about it between us.
I believe he felt bad about his past and lived a hellish life. In later years I know nothing. Just that I am glad he never moved back here. He was mixed up, and I really hold no ill will. May he rest in peace, even though I still suffer from the horrors he inflicted upon me. The sexual things he did when I was such a little girl were atrocities to a child whose days were spent playing with dolls.
There’s no longer that twisted thing that I used to feel. The sadness about all the siblings that attacked me. If only I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have attacked me, and everything would be fine. They could all be a family.
I worked hard for this life I created. I don’t feel bad because he couldn’t or didn’t. Therapy exists for everyone. The money, time, and years I invested into it has served me well and has kept me alive.
I have earned what I have fought for; life, pleasure, and a peaceful joy, though I still suffer the after effects of what they have done; the over-eating driving me to a butchery surgery which is now causing complications.
Unfortunately many other complicated challenges exist which haven’t gone away with time. They became cemented into my being and neural pathways at an early age, for instance the resurgence of adrenaline which spikes easily and too often, derailing this peaceful life no matter how hard I try to protect myself from it.
I wish things could have been different, but they weren’t. That is my sadness.